Rosseau Classic Cruise


by Festival Nomad, Gary McWilliams

The Classics…

It got me again! Classic and antique boats that is! When an acquaintance told me about this new antique and classic boat show, the Rosseau Classic Cruise, I was hooked! And, what is worse, he threw in a hook! He is the captain and owner of a beautiful classic cruise boat and he was offering to take Judi and me on it! Not fair! Randy (that’s Randy Potts of Sunset Cruises) used to Captain the Segwun, but fell in love with a small cruise boat he was restoring (actually rebuilding). The boat was perfect for taking small parties out on the Muskoka Lakes and so he started his own cruise line, Sunset Cruises. He has one boat on the go right now, but a second is scheduled to be launched next year. It’s quite a bit larger and will include a dining area. I can’t wait until next year. I hope he will invite Judi and me on one of his cruises (hint…hint)! Back to the Classic Cruise! The Cruise was taking place in the Village of Rosseau, located in the heart of the Muskoka Lakes. Our drive from Cobourg to Rosseau was going to be long, but well worth it. The day started off sunny, but quickly deteriorated the further north we drove. Once we passed Bracebridge the rain really started to pour down! Undaunted we continued on our trip to “God’s Country”. To break up the long journey we decided to take back roads to Rosseau. The route was very scenic, but the rain, which was still coming down heavily, dampened the trip (pun intended!). We livened up the trip by singing and whistling classic tunes from the past. We were really getting ready for our "classic" adventure. Eventually the Village of Rosseau came into view. The rain seemed to be slowing down, so it seemed that a cruise on the lake was still possible! We parked our car and wandered down the hill to the “Cruise” grounds…

Cars, Boats and a Celebrity…

The road to the main festival grounds were lined with antique and classic cars. I’ve often wondered why some cars are classic and others are antiques. I guess that’s for other story! Down at the docks beautiful wooden boats floated in the water, gently rocking against the docks to which they were tied. The car portion of the cruise was fairly typical, car enthusiast examining engines, peering in windows to catch a glimpse of the interior or just standing in groups discussing the merits of the cars on display. Down at the docks it was a little different. The boats were in the water, hard to get up close and personal! There were still plenty of admirers, but they seemed to less animated. In the middle of the festivals grounds was an exhibit tent. Under the tent, displays had been set up of old photos, boat hardware, antique outboard engines and radio controlled boats. Off to the side there were two or three large caricature wood carvings. With the rain still falling, the tent was quite crowded. From the tent we walked back to the docks. We asked one of the Rosseau Classic Cruise volunteers if he knew when the Sunset Cruise boat would be back. He wasn’t sure, but thought about ½ hour. We had plenty of time to continue examining the classic boats and cars! We weren’t the only ones. Down at the docks, admiring the cedar strip boats, was actor, Kurt Russell. I believe he and his companion, Goldie Hawn have a cottage in the area. Fortunately cruise attendees left him alone to enjoy the boats and the cars. After waiting the ½ hour, we looked out over the lake and noticed Captain Randy’s (Sunset Cruises) boat off in the distance!

M.V. IDYLLWOOD (Sunset Cruises)

The M.V. Idyllwood moved forward and slid slowly and efficiently into place against the dock. Captain Randy Potts was at the helm. His wife Debbie was already making everything ready for tying up. Once the boat was safely moored, the passengers were allowed to disembark. You could tell that they had enjoyed the cruise just by their comments! With the boat now empty, waiting passengers were allowed to board. After he was satisfied that everything was secure, Randy acknowledged Judi and me and invited us to join the cruise. This was to be the last of the day. The ropes were untied and the boat was pushed away from the dock. We were now on our way! Debbie gave us all the safety instructions we would need in case of an emergency. She also told us about the boat and its history. Randy had restored and rebuilt the boat himself. It had taken about 14 years. A photo album of the restoration was passed around. It is hard to believe that Randy has now taken on another project, much bigger, and hopes to have it available for charter next year. Once Debbie was finished, it was Captain Randy’s turn to give us a running commentary of what we were seeing and experiencing. His knowledge of the lake, its people and their history was simply amazing! Made more so since there was no written script. Everything he told us was from memory! When you consider that this cruise was only one of many, his knowledge was even more remarkable. Debbie told me that he changes his commentary each trip and modifies it according to the people on board and the activities happening as they cruise along! As we looked to the shoreline Randy pointed out the different cottages and some of their history. To say the least, the cottages and properties were magnificent! Ownership ranged from the ordinary to the “rich and famous”! At one point we passed comedian actor Martin Short’s cottage. Part way through the cruise Randy let us know that we would be passing a famous steam boat that was cruising in the opposite direction. Horns of acknowledgement blared as we passed! As we moved passed the ever changing landscape, Randy kept up a never ending dialogue of stories and information. All too soon we were back at the Rosseau docks! Randy expertly executed docking and we once again slid quietly against the dock! Both Randy and Debbie were first out to tie up the boat. We then filed out. Judi and I lingered to talk with Randy and Debbie and thanked them for a wonderful trip. Even though I had spent my childhood in the Muskokas, I had never traveled on any of the big three Muskoka Lakes (Muskoka, Rosseau and Joseph). My boating had mainly taken place on Lake of Bays. Unfortunately our meeting was short as they had a private charter that they needed to get to. We thanked them again and said our goodbyes. It was now later in the afternoon and time to leave the Rosseau Classic Cruise and go home. The sun had come out while we were cruising, so our journey home should be more enjoyable. Before leaving the village, we decided to take a few moments to explore the shops of Rosseau. There was a small retail area up on the hill with a number of unique stores.